In recent years due to rising energy costs as well as an increased interest in the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, there is great interest in developing alternative sources of energy. One of the most viable alternative energy resources is solar energy. Concentrating solar power (CSP) technologies have been identified as an option for meeting utility needs in the U.S. Southwest. Areas where CSP technologies can be improved are improved heat transfer fluid (HTF) and improved methods of thermal energy storage (TES). One viable option for TES storage media is concrete. The material costs of concrete can be very inexpensive and the costs/ kWhthermal, which is based on the operating temperature, are reported to be approximately $1. Researchers using concrete as a TES storage media have achieved maximum operating temperatures of 400°C. However, there are concerns for using concrete as the TES medium, and these concerns center on the effects and the limitations that the high temperatures may have on the concrete. As the concrete temperature increases, decomposition of the calcium hydroxide (CH) occurs at 500°C, and there is significant strength loss due to degeneration of the calcium silicate hydrates (C-S-H). Additionally concrete exposed to high temperatures has a propensity to spall explosively. This proposed paper examines the effect of heating rates on high performance concrete mixtures. Concrete mixtures with water to cementitious material ratios (w/cm) of 0.15 to 0.30 and compressive strengths of up to 180 MPa (26 ksi) were cast and subjected to heating rates of 3, 5, 7, and 9° C/min. These concrete mixtures are to be used in tests modules where molten salt is used as the heat transfer fluid. Molten salt becomes liquid at temperatures exceeding 220°C and therefore the concrete will be exposed to high initial temperatures and subsequently at controlled heating rates up to desired operating temperatures. Preliminary results consistently show that concrete mixtures without polypropylene fibres (PP) cannot resist temperatures beyond 500° C, regardless of the heating rate employed. These mixtures spall at higher temperatures when heated at a faster rate (7° C/min). Additionally, mixtures which incorporate PP fibres can withstand temperatures up to 600° C without spalling irrespective of the heating rate.

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